Slave Masters: A Quick Note on the First Aristocracy of the U.S.


Sharing a quick historical example of how a small group of persons can easily control the actions and fate of millions. This example is historically and academically interesting to me.

In the first half of the 19th century, the largest single industry in the United States, measured in terms of both market capital and employment, was the enslavement (and the breeding for enslavement) of human beings.

Over the course of this period, the industry became concentrated to the point where fewer than 4,000 families (roughly 0.1 percent of the households in the nation) owned about a quarter of the enslaved people. Another 390,000 (call it the 9.9 percent) owned all of the rest.

The great political mystery is that these families convinced 5 million non-slave-holding southerners and 20 million non-slave-holding northerners to aid and abet them in this repugnant enterprise.

620,000 killed, 476,000 wounded, and 400,000 captured/missing. We are talking about 1.5 million persons severely affected due to the practices of a few thousand elite families. Just so you’re aware, the population of the U.S. during the Civil War was 31 million (including ~4 million slaves).

This slave-holding elite dominated not only the government of the nation, but also its media, culture, and religion. Their votaries in the pulpits and the news networks were so successful in demonstrating the sanctity and beneficence of the slave system that millions of impoverished white people with no enslaved people to call their own conceived of it as an honor to lay down their life in the system’s defense.

Thanks for reading,


Leave a Reply